Updated on March 2nd, 2018
We took a closer look at the Avid Fast Track Duo and can tell you right from the start we were really impressed with what Avid had done.
First things First
The Fast Track Duo is a two-in, two-out USB interface with easy IOS compatibility. It is part of Avid’s “customer” range and sits right over the Fast Track Solo (which is similar but has only one input) and beneath the better-indicated M Box and M Box Pro.
Whilst its M Box partners are equipped for higher rates; they do not have the iOS usefulness of that the Avid Fast Track Duo has to offer.
Energetics’ Pro Tools Express form 10 is incorporated as a part of the bundle, and this interface speaks to a decent prospect for those making their first attempt into Pro Tools creation in a home studio setting.
As soon as you pull it out of the box you notice that the ABS case appears to be extremely vigorous and all around well-weighted, but it is somewhat mechanical looking.
There are no brilliant hues here and it practically appears as though there is an exchange missing from the front board. Ports and switches feel both positive and solid, in spite of the fact that the power flip switch seems to stick out a bit far out of the way.
The power switch is nothing to keep you from making this purchase with confidence but you do want to be mindful of it to avoid situations where you can sheer it off (yes it sticks out that far). There are nice wide elastic bands on the base that keep the unit steady on all types of work surfaces.
We were really impressed by the construct of this unit. It was nice and heavy duty without being bulky or hard to carry around.
The front panel is home to 2 inputs which can use for mic’s, guitar or bass. The inputs offer gain control that offers 48db of amp power to a mic without the need for a pad or a high pass filter option.
Monitoring is easy thanks to the LED light that indicates when a signal is present. Additionally, there is a red LED light that engages when there is an overload situation.
There is a switch that is used to that can select between the connector and a dedicated line on the back panel. This is an excellent option for anyone that wants to leave a device permanently plugged up.
As you move across the front panel on the right side there is main output jacks and headphone controls. The headphone controls can be identified by the 6.3 mm jack socket. There is a single toggle switch that controls on and off for monitoring purposes.
We did notice that there is no option for mix controlling nor is there an option to switch between stereo and mono.
As you check out the rear panel you see the Kensington Lock Socket and a phantom power switch. There is also the USB connector on the back panel.
There is also one of our favorite features on the back panel. A dedicated port for tablets is located on the back panel where you can easily connect your IPad. There is no MIDI included.
Laptop users may find a challenge to using this system because there is a need for 2 USB ports for authentication purposes.
We loved that the Pro Tools Express was so efficient and easy to us. There is a wide range of plug ins that can be used and we were pretty impressed. The system shows up with a quick start guide that makes it super easy to set up the hardware.
Users have the option of getting a complete users guide by going online but we found that everything was really easy to setup and the system itself is pretty intuitive to use so we never downloaded the entire guide, it seemed like a waste of time to us but we are experienced so if you feel more comfortable learning more than you should download the complete guide.
One of our favorite points about the Fast Track Duo was that it is “class compliant” which means you do not have to spend time downloading drivers for MAC but you do have to DL a driver for Windows but it takes minutes.
We mentioned our love for Pro Tools Express but that love affair did not quite start out as such. You should plan on setting aside some time to complete the download.
This is a multi-step process that requires a visit to the Avid website, creating an account at the website, if you do not have an iLok acct, then you have to get one of those. There is a card that is shipped in the box that has all the details.
There are a couple of steps and some of them are a little frustrating like using the Download Manager on the Avid website which DOES NOT work with Safari but it took a while to figure that out. Maybe you will have a better experience than we did.
Once you get it up and running it is like the heavens has opened up and you get this miraculous tool dropped in your lap, so ultimately it is worth the hassle.
You do get a cable in the box to connect directly to your tablet however you will still need an exterior power source. One additional thing that you need to know, you will need an adapter for the newest version of IPad to connect.
The newest version of IPad uses a “lightening connector” which has to be converted using a converter for the 30 pin connector on the Duo. We learned a hard lesson when we reviewed the Avid Fast Track (single).
DO NOT waste your time or money on a generic type adapter, they do not work with this system.
You are far better off biting the bullet and buying the more expensive Apple brand converter.
We really put this model through some grueling workloads just to see how well it would do in a regular use environment. We liked what we found.
The settings worked as they should without much fuss. The preamps for the mic is highly functional and gave us very little issue as far as signal to noise was concerned.
You need very little gain to get a nice reliable signal for recording. The switches all functioned well and we had no issue going from the front to the back panel with the switch.
We really liked that we could live a direct line in the back and switch to the front for the mic and never miss a beat.
We liked that you did not get that low level hum that you can detect with other interfaces in this price point from the preamps. We listened and listened and never picked up a hum at all.
The range was great and we did not feel like there was any signal drop or fail at any point during our sessions.
The highlight of this package rely lies in the software. The Pro Tools Express really steps up the value of this hardware. We cannot say enough good things about the software suite that compliments this hardware greatly.
We also liked that the “box” stayed in place, thanks to the thick rubber bands on the bottom. We have had incidents where we have actually pulled our interfaces over and knocked them to the floor by accident, so the bands are a big deal to us.
We found that this interface could really stand up to constant use and a little abuse as well and keep on playing on.
There was nothing that we did not like about this system other than that one switch that we think sticks out too far.
The Avid Fast Track Duo is a great option for the novice and the experienced user. It is super easy to operate and offer everything you could want in an interface.
Any user that wants to gain experience in the Pro Tools suite would do well with this model because of the simplicity of the hardware and the software combination.
Ultimately we found that this interface can produce some great results. It functions exactly as you hope it will and makes recording and monitoring as easy as possible.
Of course we do wish that Avid would make their downloads easier for those of use that use “alternate” browsers because the set up period for us was frustrating until we realized what we were doing wrong (it was not us it was our browser).
Once we had everything on board we really took this system to task and frankly it outshone many other models that we have reviewed at this price point.
It is a good investment that will help you to hone your skills. Buy it!